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Monthly Qur'an Readings

Session 15

Chapter 17: The Night Journey (Surah Al-Isra)

In the name of God, the God of Mercy, the Endower of Mercy

Verses 1-6

Glory is to ALLAH who carried the servant (Prophet) from the sacred mosque (in Makkah) to the remote mosque (in Jerusalem), the precinct of which God blessed, to show him Our signs. God is indeed Hearing, Seeing!

We gave Moses the book (Torah) and made it a source of guidance, “Take no guardian besides Me”, for the Children of Israel, the offspring of those whom We carried with Noah, a servant always grateful!

We also decreed in the book for the Children of Israel – twice you will commit mischiefs in the land and behave arrogantly with excess pride! When the first of these promises came to be executed, We brought before you Our servants possessing great forces who destroyed your habitations1. It was a threat to be executed! Then God turned the tide in your favor against them and blessed you with wealth and children so that you became a large multitude.

Verses 7-10

If you do good, you do so for your own soul. If you do evil, it is likewise (against yourself). When the second promise came, (another group against you was sent) that you may be put to shame2, they may enter your places of worship and they may destroy, whatever they conquer, with utter destruction!

It may be that your Sustainer God will have mercy on you. But if you return (to mischiefs and corruptions), so will We! We have assigned Hell to be a prisoner for the defiant!

This Qur’an guides to a path that is straight and most upright and conveys good news to those who believe that if they do good, they will have great reward, while those who deny the Afterlife, ALLAH has prepared for them a serious consequence!

Verses 11-15

The humankind prays for evil, while it ought to pray for good! Humankind is ever impatient and lacks deliberation!

ALLAH made the night and the day as two signs – making the darkness of the night to disappear to make room for the light of the day to manifest, thereby enabling you to seek God’s bounty, to calculate the numbering of years and to develop systems for accountability. We have explained everything with ample clarity!

For every human, We attach its conducts4 to its neck. On the Day of Resurrection, We will produce a book for each that it will see wide open! “Read your book. You yourself are sufficient to take account of yourself on this day.” Whoever guides itself to the right path, it does so for its own benefit and whoever goes astray, does so for its own detriment. No one will bear the burden of another. We do not call to account until We raise a Messenger.

Verses 16-24

When ALLAH wishes to bring an end to a city, God sends commands to the people who lead easy and corrupt life and they cease not to correct themselves, thereby proving their guilts. Then We destroy them with utter destruction – how many generations after Noah have We made extinct! God is sufficient as One fully Aware and Seeing of the servants’ transgressions!

Whoever pursues this fleeting life, We hurry up for them what We please and for whom We will, but then assign them Hell which they enter forsaken and driven away! But whoever works for the Hereafter and strives towards it as they should, and they are believers – these are the ones who will be rewarded fully! We aid all – the latter and the former – out of the bounty of God, such bounty of God is unlimited! See how We let some to excel others, and such is the Hereafter – greater in ranks and greater in excellence!

Associate none with God, lest you are left disgraced and rejected! God has obligated you to serve none but God and to be good to your parents. If either or both become old, don’t ever say, “fie”, to them or chide them in any way but always speak with respect and treat with generosity! Serve them with humility and kindness and pray for them, “God, have mercy on them as they had mercy on me when I was little.”

Verses 25-38

Your Sustainer knows what is in your mind – if you are righteous, God will forgive as you turn to God. Treat your relatives and neighbors with what is due to them, help the needy, take care of the strangers and the travelers and do not waste and squander; the wasteful is devil’s accomplice and the devil is ever ungrateful to God! But if you are unable, as you seek bounty of God for yourself, at least be kind and gentle, as you hope for yourself. Be moderate – don’t be too tight-fisted or wastefully open-armed that you end up blamed or overcome with regrets.

Surely God makes plentiful the provisions for some as God wills, while constraining such provisions for others – God is Aware, an Observer of God’s creations!

Do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you as well. Such killing is a great sin! Do not go anywhere near to adultery – it is an indecency and an evil conduct! Do not kill a person that God has made sacred except in just cause. Whoever is murdered unjustly, We have given authority to the heirs and defenders, but let them not abuse such authority and help shall be rendered! Do not go near to orphan’s property except with good intention and let them attain maturity. Fulfill your promises and commitments, such promises will be questioned! Give full measure when you measure out and use a just balance. This is a better and fairer outcome! Do not follow practices and rituals blindly without proper knowledge – surely your hearing, your seeing and your hearts – all will be questioned! Do not tread the earth with pride and arrogance – you cannot render it open nor match the heights of its mountains. All these – such evils – are hateful in the sight of your God!

Verses 39-46

This is the wisdom that your Sustainer had revealed to you, so that you do not associate any other deities with God, lest you find yourself in Hell, blamed and forsaken! How is that your God preferred you to have sons while taking on daughters from among the angels? Such assertions on your part are indeed outrageous!

We have explained things in this Qur’an through various means so that they may become mindful; yet it only furthers their stance. Say, “If there were gods other than God, as you assert, then they would have found a way to the Throne (of ALLAH).” God is Glorious, far above what they ascribe! The seven heavens, the earth and those in them hymn God’s glory – there is nothing that does not glorify God with praise, even though you may not understand their glorifications! God is most Forbearing, most Forgiving!

When you (Prophet) recite the Qur’an, We place between you and those who deny the Hereafter, an invisible barrier – coverings over their hearts and a deafness in their ears - so that they do not understand it. When you mention your Sustainer, One God in the Qur’an, they turn and walk away!

Verses 47-52

God knows what they listen to when they listen to you, when they take secret counsels, and when the evil ones say, “You only follow a person who is devoid of reason!” See how they describe you – they have strayed too far and cannot find the way.

They say, “When we are all bones and decayed, shall we be resurrected to a new creation?” Say, “Be even stones or iron or any other form that you find hard to conceive to have life!” They will ask, “Who will resurrect us?” Say, “God who created you in the first place.” Still, they will shake their head (in disbelief) at you and ask, “When will it be?” Say, “Perhaps it is sooner (than you think).”

On that day, God will call you and you will respond with praise of God, and you will think that you stayed (on earth) for a short while.

Verses 53-58

Instruct My servants that when they speak, they speak with good in mind and (be aware of) the Devil who sows dissensions among humankind. The Devil is a sworn enemy of humankind!

God knows you best. God may have mercy on you as God pleases or chastise you as God pleases! We have not sent you (Prophet) to take charge of them. God knows best who are in the heavens and on earth. We have made some prophets to excel others and gave David the Psalm!

Say, “Feel free to call on those whom you assert godhead besides God”; these have no power to change or remove your distress. Instead, these (angels) whom you call upon, seek to find ways to access God – whoever happens to be closer to God, and they hope for God’s mercy and are afraid of God’s chastisement; such chastisement from God is something one should be careful about.

There is not a community (or a town) that We will not destroy before the Day of Resurrection or chastise with a severe chastisement – this is already written in the book.

Verses 59-64

Nothing prevents Us (God) from sending additional miracles except that previous generations rejected them. (For example) We gave to the community of Thamud the she-camel. It was a manifest miracle, but they did her wrong. We only send signs to warn. When We said to you (Prophet), “Surely your God knows all that is to know about humankind”, the vision that We showed you and even the accursed tree mentioned in the Qur’an – were all trials for people6. We warn them (with these signs), but these only add to their arrogant denials.

(Remember) when We said to the angels, “Submit to Adam.”, they all submitted except Iblis7. He said, “How shall I submit to someone created out of dust? How is that you give it honor above me? If You allow me to persist till the Day of Resurrection, I will gain control over its descendants, except a few.”

God said, “Go away! Whoever of them follows you – you and all will find Hell as compensation, a fitting compensation! Incite them, if you can, with your speech, deploy your arsenals against them, allure them with wealth and progeny and make promises.” Promises of the devil is nothing but deception!

Verses 65-70

“My true servants – you will have no power over them. Your God is sufficient to take care of their affairs.”

Your God is the One Who speeds up your ships in the sea as you seek His bounty for you. Surely God is ever merciful to you. When impending peril affects you in the sea, all that you call upon other than God are cast aside except God (Whom you implore), but as soon as God lands you safe on the shore, you turn away. Humankind is persistently ungrateful!

Are you sure that the shore will not collapse on you or that a volcano will not send a torrent of stones over you? You will then find no protector for yourselves! Do you feel secure that God will not take you back to the sea another time and bring a fierce storm over you that will drown you for your ungratefulness? Then you will not find another helper against Us in that instance. (v68-69)

We have indeed honored the children of Adam (and Eve) – We carry them in land and sea, We provide for them good things, and We have favored them over many of Our creations!

Verses 71-77

On the Day (of Resurrection) when We (God) shall call every community with its leaders, then whoever are given their records in their right hands, they will read (with gratefulness) and none will be dealt unjustly, even in the least! Whoever acted blindly in this world, will rise as blind in the Hereafter and will be further off the path.

Surely, they had proposed to take you away from what We had revealed to you and to persuade you to forge something in Our name other than this - then they would have considered you a friend. If We had not given you conviction, you might have inclined to them a little. In that case, We would have made you taste a double (chastisement) in this life and a double in the life after death and you could not have availed any helper against Us.

Surely, they attempted to frighten you and exile you from your city but then they would not have survived after you for too long! This is how We deal with messengers (and their communities) who came before you. You will not find any change in the manner We operate.

Verses 78-84

Keep up your regular worship from when the sun moves away from its zenith and until the darkness of the night and recite the Qur’an at dawn. Indeed, the recital of the Qur’an in the dawn is witnessed. During part of the night, maintain night vigil (in worship and mindfulness), beyond what is incumbent on you – perhaps your Sustainer God will elevate you to a state of glory! And pray, “My Sustainer God, may you make my entry a truthful entering, and my exit a truthful exiting and grant me from Yourself an authority to help.” Say, “Truth has come, and falsehood had vanished – for falsehood is ever bound to recede.”

We (God) revealed the Qur’an as healing and guidance for those who believe, but for the unbelievers and the unjust it only adds to their losses. When We bestow on humankind our blessings, it turns away arrogantly, but when an evil touch it, it is full of despair. Say, “Everyone acts according to one’s own ways but your God knows best who is guided on the path.”

Verses 85-95

They ask about the revelations. Say, “The revelation is by the command of my Sustainer God and you are given knowledge but a little!” If We (God) please, We could take away that which has been revealed to you (Prophet), then you could not find anyone to plead your case to Us, except mercy from your God, Whose grace to you is abundant!

Say, “If humankind and jinn were to come together to produce a Qur’an like this, they could not bring one, even if they aided one another much.” We have clarified things in this Qur’an with all kinds of examples, yet most of humankind are in denials. They say, “We will not believe - until you cause a spring to gush forth from the ground for us, or you have a garden of dates and palms and you cause a river to flow through it in abundance, or you cause the heavens to fall on us in pieces, as you claim it will, or bring God and angels face to face with us, or you have house full of gold, or you ascend to heaven - even then we will not believe until to you send a book for us that we can read.”

Say, “By my God, am I anything but a mortal, a messenger?” Nothing prevents people from believing when guidance comes to them, except they say, “Has ALLAH raised a mortal to be a messenger?” Say, “If the earth were inhabited by angels, making it their homes, God would have sent an angel from heaven as a messenger.”

Verses 96-100

Say, “ALLAH is sufficient as a witness between me and you, as God is the Seer and the Knower of the creation!” Whomever God guides, is on the right way and whomever God leaves in error, can have no other protector besides God. We shall gather them all on the Day of Resurrection – on their faces, blind, dumb and deaf – in hell as their residence. We add to its fury whenever it abates. This is their retribution because they denied our messages and said, “When we become decayed and bones, shall we be raised as a new creation?”

Do they not realize that God, Who created the heavens and the earth, is fully capable of creating them anew? God also appointed for them a life span, as you can see without doubt. Yet the evildoers agree to nothing but disbelief! Say (to them), “If you were given control of the treasure of God’s mercy, then you would give little, for fear of diminishing it. Humankind is ever prone to being miserly!

Verses 101-111

We certainly gave Moses nine clear proofs8 – you can ask the Children of Israel. When he came to them, Pharaoh said to him, “Moses, I consider you to be under a spell!” Moses said, “You know for sure that these proofs have come from the Lord of the heavens and the earth. I consider you, O Pharaoh, to be misguided.” Then Pharaoh attempted to scare them off the land, while God drowned him and those with him, altogether!

We (God) said to the Children of Israel after this, “Live in this land. But when the time of next life comes, We shall raise you up along with everyone else.” With truth We have revealed this (Qur’an) and with truth this (message) has arrived – We did not send you (Prophet) except to give good news and to warn!

This Qur’an, We have made distinctive, such that you (Prophet) may convey to them in measured parts. We have as such revealed it in measured increments. Say,” Believe in it or do not believe”, but those who possessed knowledge beforehand, bow down in humility when they hear its recitation and proclaim, ‘God is glorious! Surely the promise of our Sustainer God has been fulfilled!’” – weeping and lowering them to God, as it adds to their extreme humility!

Say, “Call on ALLAH or call on Ar-Rahman – by whatever name you choose to call – God has the best attributes, and in your worship, neither be loud nor be silent, but seek a middle ground.”

Say, “Praise be to God – Who has not taken a son, Who has no partner in the kingdom and Who needs no helper due to any weakness. Proclaim God’s limitless glory!”

Chapter 18: The Cave (Surah Al-Kahf)

In the name of God, the God of Mercy, the Endower of Mercy

Verses 1-8

Praise be to ALLAH Who transmitted the Book to God’s servant and allowed no inconsistency in it! Establishing guidance9 while warning about the severe consequences that emanates from God and giving good news to the believers who do good! Their rewards will be good and remain with them forever!

It is a warning to those who say, “God has taken on an offspring!” 10 Neither they nor their ancestors have any knowledge of it. Truly appalling is what comes out of their mouth – what they speak is nothing but a clear lie! Perhaps you will destroy yourself in grief for their denial of this message. We have placed on earth useful and alluring things so that We may try and assess which of them are best in conduct. Eventually We shall turn all that are on it into a barren land.

Verses 9-16

Do you find the residents of the cave and inscriptions therein11 as wonders of Our signs? As the youths sought refuge in the cave, they prayed, “Our Sustainer God, may You bless us with Your Mercy and enable us to find the right course for our fate.” So We put them to sleep for a number of years and then We let them arise so that We could see which of the two groups were best able to estimate how long they have been sleeping. We convey this story with truth to you – these youths believed in their God, and We strengthen them in guidance!

We fortified their hearts when they stood up to proclaim, “Our God is the God of the heavens and the earth! We devote ourselves to no other god but God – to do otherwise would be an outrage! These people from our community asserts gods besides God, while they bring no clear proof. Who is more corrupt that the one who fabricates lies against God? And now that you have withdrawn from your community and from what they worshipped besides God, and took refuge in the cave, Your God will shower you with Mercy and ease your way out of your ordeal.

Verses 17-20

If you could visualize – they were in a wide space (in the cave) and the sun rising will appear on their right and the sun setting will appear on their left – another sign of ALLAH. Whom God guides will find the right guidance, whereas whom God leaves to stray, you could not find a friend who could help find the way. You would assume they were awake, while they slept – we turn then over to the right and to the left - with their dog at the entrance with paws stretched out. If you were to come upon them, you will turn back in fear and will be filled with awe in their presence!

Eventually we woke them up and they questioned one another. One of them said, “How long have we been in this condition?”, some said, “A day or part of a day,” while others said, “Only God knows how long have we slept. Now let one of us take some money to go to the city and look for food that is pure and bring us some provision. Let him be discreet and not disclose to anyone our affairs, because if they overpower us, they will either stone us to death or force us to go back to their religion in which case we will never attain success.”

Verses 21- 24

We then let (people) discover them so that people might know that God’s promise (about death and resurrection) is true, and the Hour is sure to come, though they continue to dispute over them. Some said, “Let us build a monument over them.” Those who prevailed in this matter said, “We will build a place of worship over them!”

Some said, “The sleepers were three, the fourth being their dog,” while others said, “Four, the dog being the fifth,” purely speculating in the dark, while still others said, “Seven, the eighth being the dog.” Tell them (Prophet), “God knows their numbers, and perhaps a few people. It is better not to dispute except with facts and there is no further value in questioning about this. Refrain from saying about anything, “I will do this tomorrow”, but add “If God so wills”13. If you forget then say as soon as you remember, “May my God guide me to a path nearer than this in pursuit of the right way!”

Verses 25-29

They remained in the cave for three hundred years, while some adds nine more years. Say, “God knows best how long they remained.” The unknowns of the heavens and the earth are in God’s purview. How Excellent are God’s sight and hearing! There are no guardians besides God, and none have share in God’s judgment! Transmit all that is revealed to you of the Book from your God. There are none who can change the word of God! There is no refuge besides God!

Be content with the company of those who remember God morning and evening, seeking God’s countenance. Let your sight not pass over them in search of the allures of the world’s life, nor follow those whose hearts God had made to be un-attending to God’s remembrance – those who follow their vain desires and exceeds all moral and ethical bounds. Reaffirm, “The truth is from your God; therefore, believe if you wish to believe and disbelieve if you are so inclined.

Verses 30-41

For the unjust We have prepared a Fire like enclosure that will surround them. If they cry for relief, they will be given water like molten brass, burning their face. What a terrible drink! What a terrifying place to rest! But for those who believe and do good, We do not waste the effort of those who do good! It is for them that there is the Garden of Perpetuity with streams and rivers abound, with bracelets of gold, green robes of silk and rich brocades, reclining on sofas. Excellent rewards! Beautiful resting places!

Let’s recount for them the parable of two men – for one We established two gardens of grapevines, surrounded by date-palms, separated by cornfield – both yielding their fruits and produce without failing, while We made a river to flow through them. Therefore, he had abundance in everything. One day he said to his neighbors in a contentious way, “I am wealthier than you are and have greater followers.” He went to his gardens in a such condition of ungratefulness and said to himself, “My affluence will never come to end, and I do not believe in the Day of Judgment. Even if it is true, I believe my return will even be better than this!” His neighbor replied, as they exchanged arguments, “Do you really deny God Who created you out of dust, then into a living ovum and finally made you a whole human being? As for me, God is my Sustainer and I take no partners with God. I wish you had said, when you went to your gardens, ‘It is as God had blessed – there is no power other than God. Do you really see me less in wealth and family? Perhaps God will give me things better than yours while sending a reckoning from the sky to turn you gardens in a dusty plain. Or, its water will sink deep that will not benefit you.”

Verses 42-49

As his fruits and produce lay in waste, he was grief stricken. What he had invested lay destroyed on their trellises, and he said, “Ah, I wish I took no partners besides God.” He indeed had no host to help him against God and he could not defend himself either. Protection belongs to God alone – with truth. God is the best in giving rewards and in requiting!

Let them understand the life of this world – We rain down water from the cloud so that the vegetation and the land absorb it, giving abundant growth but soon these become dry stubble and then get scattered by the wind. God’s hold over all things is limitless! Wealth and children are an allurement of this life, but good works are the ones that endure – better in the sight of God for hopes and rewards!

Be mindful of the Day when the mountains disappear and the earth flattens while We gather people together, with none left behind. They will be arraigned in ranks before the Sustainer God. See how you have come back to Us, just as We created you first! You thought We had made no such future appointment for you. The book of record is placed before them and the guilty are afraid of what is in it; they say, “Ah, what a shame! What a book it is – it leaves nothing unaccounted for, neither large nor small” – all their conducts are staring at them! Your God delves injustice to no one!

Verses 50-59

(Remember) when We commanded the angels, “Bow down to Adam”, and they did except Iblis.14 Iblis was a jinn, and he transgressed the command of his Sustainer God. Would you then take Iblis and his followers as your masters rather than Me, while they are your enemies? What an evil exchange made by the ungrateful! I (God) did not make you witness the creation of the heavens and the earth, nor even your own creation. Neither could I take those who mislead to be My supporters! One day God will say, “Call on those whom you considered My partners.” They will call but these will not answer, and We will make known their separation. The guilty will see the Fire and realize that they are about to be engulfed and cannot escape!

Indeed, We have posited examples of all kinds in this Qur’an to make things clear to humankind but human beings are contentious in most affairs. What prevents humankind from following the guidance presented to them and from seeking God’s forgiveness, except that the fate of the ancient should come to them or the chastisement due will confront them? We do not send messengers except to give good news and to warn but the deniers contend with falsehood to weaken the truth; they take My messages and what they are being warned about as mockery.

Who are more ungrateful than the ones who are reminded of the messages from the Sustainer God but remain oblivious to their own doings. We have placed a covering over their hearts, lest they comprehend it and a deafness over their ears – such that even if you were to call them (in earnest) to the proper way, they will not find guidance. Yet your Sustainer God is Forgiving, full of Mercy! If God were to punish them for their conduct, God would have quickened their consequences for them except that there is a time appointed for them from which they will not escape. There are towns that We did destroy when they did evils, but at the appointed times for their destructions.

Verses 60-70

Recall when Moses said to his attendant15, “I will not stop until I come to the junction of two bodies of water16, even if I have to go on for years.” When they did reach the junctions, they forgot about the fish which took its way into the water, freeing itself. After they have gone some distance, Moses said to his attendant, “Let’s prepare our morning breakfast; we are already tired from this journey.” Then the attendant said, “Remember when we took rest on a rock, I forgot to tell you about the fish; it burrowed its way to the waters while the devil made me forget to tell you about it – an amazing thing!” Moses said, “This is what we are after,” and then traced back on their footsteps.

There they came across one of Our servants17 whom We granted mercy from Ourselves and taught him knowledge of Our own. Moses proposed to him, “May I travel with you so that you may teach me from the right guidance that you have been endowed with?” He replied, “But you will lose patience with me. How can one have patience in matters that are beyond their knowledge? Moses said, “God willing, you will find me patient and not disagreeing with you on anything.” He said, “If you still want to follow me, then question me not until I explain these to you myself.”

Verses 61-77

Then they travelled together and eventually embarked on a boat where he made a hole in the boat. Moses said, “Did you make a hole to drown everyone? What you have done is egregious!” He replied, “Did I not say to you that you will not have patience with me?” Moses replied, “Don’t hold me accountable for what I forgot and don’t be harsh with me for what I said.” They then continued until they came upon a boy, and he killed the boy. Moses said, “How can you kill an innocent person? He is not guilty of murder. What you have done is horrible!” He said, “Did I not say to you that you will not be able maintain patience with me?” Moses said, “If I question you again after this, you are free to leave me, as you would have found adequate reason to depart me.” So they continued until they came to a town and asked for food from its residents who refused to extend them the courtesy of a guest. There they found a wall falling on itself and he set it upright. Moses said to him, “You could if you wish, take compensation for your work.”

***Excerpt from on-going translation of the Qur’an – Removing the Middleman Series, by Rashed Hasan. Copyright by Author***

July 2024

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